In Depth Wizard Guide

In Depth Wizard Guide submitted by drgentleman. Build updated a bit for the latest patches.

The Build:

This build looks the shake things up a bit from the usual tedium of endlessly kiting, slowing, and waiting for your blizzards and hydras to finally down those 3.5m+ HP champs as you practice your cardio.

I of course can't promise an end to kiting, since every class will have to do this in some form to succeed in Inferno, but this is a fun and most importantly HIGHLY EFFECTIVE way to deal with anything Hell's minions throw at you (short of invulnerable minions/mortar/jailer/vortex Soul Rippers or some other gruesome and unfortunate pack).

Here's an overview of what we'll be accomplishing: chain knockbacks and stuns, nearly endless escape/tight spot emergency spells, a hefty dose of defense, and more than enough firepower to dish out enough damage to not fall asleep during champion fights. We'll be using Teleport, Mirror Image, and Wave of Force to provide a nice twist on the common formula so many wizards have come to know. This build is primarily tested for solo play, but can be tremendous in group play as well, as long as your friends don't mind things getting knocked around all the time!

Pros: * Stops regular mobs dead in their tracks * Interrupts champions, reflects projectiles * Lots of time to sit back and lob tons of orbs * Many methods of escape * SURVIVABILITY!

Cons: * No Diamond Skin * Some cooldowns * DPS loss from not having Magic Weapon or Familiar

What might throw you about this build is the lack of Diamond Skin and any signature spells. I used a Piercing Orb and Diamond Skin build for the longest time, but recently transitioned to this after playing with it. If you're skeptical, bear with me as you read this, and it should make sense by the end. Even if you're still skeptical, I strongly urge you to just give it a try, even for 15 minutes. 


Hydra (Venom Hydra): The bread and butter of any Inferno Wizard. The DPS this spell brings to the table is unreal, especially when compared to other Hydra runes. What makes it so great is two things: the projectiles the hydras spit do damage, but also leave a pool beneath their target. This damage can stack, and also affects any enemies that walk into the venom pool. Whether single-target or in a group, even if this is the only spell you cast, you will be surprised how quickly your foes' health decreases. The practically-nothing cost of 15 AP means you can keep this up at all times.

Mirror Image (Mirror Mimics): Surprisingly, this is one of the most invaluable spells at your disposal, yet is highly underused. Some people have only discovered its effectiveness in the Diablo battle, with the Duplicates rune, but in this particular build you will truly see its power. Not only do your mimics distract enemies, but they can cast the true centerpiece of this build: Wave of Force. Their waves actually stun enemies! The 10% of your own damage is handy, but nothing compared to utility of this effect. You must have Mirror Mimics in order for the clone waves to stun, so that is crucial.

Teleport (Calamity): Teleport has such a wide variety of uses, but by far the most common runes you will see are either Wormhole or Fracture. You might think Fracture would be best for this build, but the clones from this rune do not stack with your Mirror Image skill. Not only that, but the Wave of Force these Fracture clones cast do not stun enemies.

As such, Calamity is by far the best choice here – thanks to the Illusionist passive, if you ever get smacked, even if this spell was on cooldown you can instantly teleport away, even into a group of enemies, and they will get knocked back (no stun though). The best part is this doesn't have to be used defensively. While chaining your numerous Waves, you can throw in a Teleport wave no problem. Even without Illusionist this spell would be hard to beat.

Wave of Force (Impactful Wave): The real star of this build. I was talking to my friends who also play a wizard, and it was crazy to hear that none of them had even so much as tried out this skill! When looking at your options, it is very easy to dismiss this as something to never use, or see it as being highly situational. I'm here to let you know how fantastic it really is. Its somewhat high cooldown (15s) and cost of 25 AP can seem discouraging, but after getting used to this skill, it shouldn't be too detrimental.

This will save your hide in so many scenarios, does good damage by itself, has great range, and both knocks back and stuns enemies. It will also reflect any and all projectiles, which is hilarious when facing Electrified elites up close as you reflect 10s of bolts back into them and watch their health plummet. If you take nothing else from this build, I'd urge simply giving this spell a shot.

Arcane Orb (Tap the Source): The main AP sink of this build, which shouldn't come as a shock. Arcane Orb is just too powerful to leave out, especially if you have a high crit/crit damage build. The 6-digit numbers you'll be seeing will just roll off targets and fill up the screen. Even if you have low crit, the amount of orbs you can fire off before having to let your AP recharge is enormous (usually 6-8 in rapid succession). Why Tap the Source over Obliteration or Celestial Orb?

The answer is, simply, quantity over quality. You will be doing far more damage with these slightly less powerful orbs than you could ever hope to with the other runes. I might switch to Obliteration for bosses like Belial, where you won't often have much time to chain off orbs in between AP regeneration, but it's so rare, and switching skills negates your Nephalem Valor, it's best to stick with the glory of 20 AP orbs.

Energy Armor (Force Armor): That's right, despite the nerf, this skill still proves to be incredibly effective. Once you make sure you have enough Effective HP to survive just one hit (so you don't get gibbed despite the armor), you'll find yourself able to take at least 3 shots back to back without going down. I've found some good HP numbers to shoot for are 20k for Act I, 30k for Act II, 35k for Act III, and 40k for Act IV (with the exception of some mobs like the Morlu Incerator, who hits for 110k EHP – ouch). With some life regen (500-1000), and hit points around those approximate amounts, you shouldn't have to deal with getting 1-shot, 2-shot, or even 3-shot any longer.



Astral Presence: A no-brainer. 2 AP per second? 20 extra AP? This should provide you with enough regen and make up for the loss of 20 AP from Energy Armor. Not much else to say. With a crit build and an item that gives AP on crit, you will have more AP than you know what to do with. Wait, of course you do – blow stuff up!

Illusionist: This build utilizes both skills this passive resets the cooldowns for. If you're in a tight spot, you can pop your mimics, teleport away, and do it again instantly if you get hit afterward. Usually getting hit is a bad thing in Inferno, but thanks to this passive it's no longer quite an issue, and sometimes even desirable or necessary.

Up for Debate:

Galvanizing Ward: Primarily you'll be choosing this for the extra life regen, and is my pick for this build. The other function of a longer-lasting buff is really only about convenience. I find myself recasting Force Armor any time there's a lull in action and I have full AP, but occasionally, in longer battles, your mind might forget and the buff will run down longer, making this rather nice in those scenarios.

The reason I pick this as my third passive is because with Force Armor, 3 quick hits will kill you (105% health). As any wizard who used the high regen, no vitality build pre-nerf will know, life regen was the key to taking more hits within a short time. The same rule is in effect here: With the 310 life per second, and a small amount of gear with regen as well, you will be much better off.

If the cooldowns do seem a bit high to you, you can swap out the Galvanizing Ward for Evocation.

For some extra CC, you can use Temporal Flux for a bit of a slow whenever you use Arcane Orb.

Of course, if you're all about damage and feel too gimped without Magic Weapon, Glass Cannon is the passive for you. It's tough to beat 15% extra damage sometimes.


This is largely a matter of personal preference. As I mentioned earlier, this build can really shine if you have a high crit build thanks to Arcane Orb, and if you want to be critting 3% more often with some marginal CC, the Scoundrel is for you. Personally, I use the Templar, even though his heals really drop off in numbers in Inferno. However, as you kite, you might be one hit away from death, and that measely 5k HP heal every now and then can mean life or death. Some people will choose the Enchantress for the passive attack speed buff, polymorph, and a little bonus damage. For Barbarians, the Enchantress is an easy choice thanks to the 15% armor buff that persists even through Eirena's death, but I would recommend either the Templar or the Scoundrel for the Wizard.


I can't give a rundown on every situation you'll encounter, but I can detail how I most often begin my engagements. As expected, you'll want to open with Venom Hydra, and keep an eye on it so you'll know when to throw it down again. After that, I'll cast Mirror Image to either eat projectiles being cast at me, or to run in and cast their Waves of Force. Most of the time the clones are pretty good about casting that spell when enemies get too close to you. Afterward I look for any openings to cast Arcane Orb as much as possible. 

If I get hit and my clones are dead, I pop MI again right away, unless I'm in a corner, in which case I'll teleport out. For easier fights, I offensively teleport onto enemies if I get the chance and don't think I'll need it soon. If you're getting surrounded, have MI and TP on CD, but can't take another hit, this is when you'll want to save your real Wave of Force for. Other than that, it's mostly balancing your cooldowns in a logical manner, and actively seeking/creating downtime to fire orbs (or using the run'n'gun method of stutter-stepping - tossing an orb, running, tossing an orb, ad nauseum).


Ideally you'll be around at least 30k DPS unbuffed if you're heading into Act III Inferno. 33K HP, 3k armor, and 400 All Resist are good numbers to shoot for. Picking out gear for your wizard isn't difficult – prioritize high Int and Vit, with a secondary focus on AR, and always be mindful of crit chance, crit damage, and attack speed. In my opinion, even AR isn't that important to a wizard, since we're so squishy to begin with. 

If you can't find decent AR without taking a big hit to int/vit, don't even worry about it. Keep an eye on armor values as well, because you can find items with great stats but very poor armor amounts. Honestly, that shouldn't be a big issue unless you have under 200 armor on every piece of your gear. Also, make sure you get 12% movement speed on your boots! If you're very unlucky on drops, and very poor, then you'll probably be hard-pressed to even get gear on the AH, but that is the nature of this game, and very few people can get in to snipe those great 1d 12h deals that are so often “no longer available” by the time you click them. Diablo 3 is all about the gear, and really is the key to successfully farming with ease, so I wish you luck.